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John Racener

2010 newsmakers: For gambler John Racener, the best of times, the worst of times

SOUTH TAMPA — John Racener will never be the same.

As the year wound to a close, he was making an offer on a home on the coveted Bayshore Boulevard, after cashing in a lump sum check worth $5.55 million.

The boy who grew up in Port Richey collecting baseball cards grew into a local household name in 2010 when he won second place in the nationally televised World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. On Nov. 9, the 24-year-old outlasted an entire field of 7,319, except for the champion, who took home $8.94 million.

Besides the house on Bayshore, Racener said he plans to buy his mother a home near him in Tampa with his winnings. She's a Pasco County mail carrier who was forced to retire this year after hip surgery.

"Financially, it's nice," Racener said. "I just have more opportunity to travel and help out my mom and sister."

In the world of high-stakes poker tournaments, you have to buy yourself a seat at the playing table with thousands of dollars in entry fees. So he will use the millions to help him invest.

But the year hasn't been all positive for Racener. Just a month after his poker victory, he made the news again. On Dec. 11, Racener was arrested at W Azeele Street and S Westland Avenue on suspicion of his third DUI since 2005. His manager declined to comment immediately after the arrest.

Justin George, Times staff writer

2010 newsmakers: For gambler John Racener, the best of times, the worst of times 12/30/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 30, 2010 3:30am]
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